Liberal Democrat candidates in Elmbridge Borough Council Election 2nd May 2019

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Claygate – Alex Coomes (re-election)
Alex grew up in Claygate, and worked in financial services before setting up his own microbrewery in Claygate. He sells real ale to trade as well as direct to the public through his micropub ‘Platform 3’ next to the station. As a local entrepreneur Alex supports independent business in the village, which makes Claygate great for shopping.
Alex is passionate about protecting Claygate’s Green Belt from development and fights decisively for residents’ needs when faced with Surrey County Council’s poor level of services. He is a keen dog walker and cyclist – having taken part in numerous Charity cycling events.

Cobham & Downside – David Bellchamber
David is a retired lawyer. After partnership in a City firm, he practised locally for many years. David has been involved, through Transition Cobham, with setting up the Cobham Community Garden. He looks to improve the local environment by minimising waste, keeping footpaths open and clean and with the retention and planting of trees, helping to improve air quality.
David volunteers in planning with Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust and has campaigned to save Green Belt land and to properly implement planning policy. David wants to introduce unitary authorities with a tier of parish councils implementing Neighbourhood Plans.

Hinchley Wood & Weston Green – Liz Ambekar
Liz Ambekar has lived in Hinchley Wood since 2014, is married and has two children attending local schools. She has worked twenty years in the not-for-profit sector and is now a Finance Director in a charity, which deals with both food poverty and food waste.
Liz will focus on those real issues that affect people from the lack of local school places to poor public transport, crime and safety and affordable housing whilst protecting the green belt.
Hinchley Wood and Weston Green are special communities and as a local resident Liz will champion and support their individuality.

Long Ditton – Neil Houston (re-election)
Neil is a family man who cares for his village. He wants to stop over-development in Long Ditton and to continue protecting the Green Belt from being developed.
He believes it is important that we feel safe, and is fighting for a better visual police presence and wants to stop local fire services being cut. He regularly speaks up on issues raised with him by residents, such as unsafe pavements, planning applications, street lighting and potholes. He says he is proud to represent his community and that his priority is the safety and well-being of people from all walks of life.

Molesey East – Susan Fergy
Sue Fergy has lived in Molesey for 33 years. A Registered Nurse, Sue practised in London before starting at Kingston Hospital and became a lecturer at Kingston University. She is passionate about health and education.
Sue wants a transparent council – informed by local concerns. She is keen to strengthen the community for all Molesey residents by: a) providing easy access to leisure, sport and social facilities for young people, b) restoring neighbourhood policing, c) supporting local businesses and start-ups, d) revitalising the high street, e) ensuring access to efficient general practice near to residents, f) opposing the over-development of the Jolly Boatman site

Molesey West – Alastair Sturgis
Alastair has lived in Molesey for over twenty years bringing up two children, who attended local schools. He is chairman of Hurst Park Residents Association and wants more effective local democracy – so that the council is seen as working for the whole community and is not seen as a remote organisation.
If elected Alastair will ensure that all council decisions are for the good of Molesey residents and Elmbridge gives the best value for money.
Alastair will campaign for truly affordable housing, protecting the environment, encouraging residents to walk or cycle short distances, as well as improving social care.

Oatlands & Burwood Park – Adriana Dredge
Adriana has lived in Oatlands for 23 years and is an active member of the community.  She has worked in higher education as a university lecturer and course director.  In addition to teaching and research, Adriana has helped many students and staff to navigate through many changes in the education system.  Locally, she has worked as a volunteer “computer buddy” at the library, helping people who lack digital skills to realise the benefits of the internet.
Adriana wants to maintain the high quality of life in Oatlands – listening to the residents and ensuring that their concerns determine the council’s agenda.

Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon – Dorothy Ford
Dorothy Ford has lived for 36 years on the edge of Green Belt, at the centre of the ward. She is an award-winning policy maker and used to work for central government in Whitehall, Brussels and Strasbourg.  She has taught at university and comprehensives.
Dorothy promises to make our community safer, greener and fairer by avoiding overly dense housing, building new housing on brownfield sites (not on Green Belt), implementing residents’ demands for air quality monitoring, better road traffic and safety services and unifying the local council with Surrey County Council to save taxpayers’ money, fund essential services, and reduce bureaucracy.

Thames Ditton – Jez Langham
Jeremy and his wife Sophie moved to Thames Ditton in 2001. Their older children, Thomas and Evie, attended Hinchley Wood Secondary. However, Edward, currently in Yr6 at TD Juniors, is one of 38 from 120 children without an allocated place. School places are only the tip of the iceberg, though – ongoing education, welfare and policing cuts are threatening our well-being.
Elmbridge needs an integrated answer to the great harm done by the government to our local communities. Jeremy works with Monica Harding (Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate who will oppose Dominic Raab) for a more effective local and national partnership.

Walton North – Nicholas Gosling
Nicholas Gosling has lived in Walton on Thames for twelve years. He is married with two children and works as an airline pilot.
Nicholas is passionate about local community issues. He wants to work with local businesses to improve our on and off street parking provisions in order to drive foot traffic into our town centre, including free parking at certain times.
Total transparency and accountability are vital in his work. The same applies to councils i.e. showing where every penny is spent and how it creates value. We must be more engaged in community projects and spending decisions.

Walton South – Margaret Hawkes
Margaret is married to Peter and has lived in Walton for over 40 years, where she brought up her family. Until she took early retirement, Margaret worked as an analyst for a logistics company near Heathrow Airport, driving over Walton Bridge every morning. She has been involved in many voluntary projects, from visiting young offenders in HM Feltham Prison to helping with the Elmbridge Credit Union. She brings a wide experience of life – having been a commuter, a working mother and her work with young people. She is tenacious, asks awkward questions and demands better for the people of Walton.

Weybridge Riverside – Ashley Tilling
Ashley has lived in Weybridge for over fifteen years, teaching physics at a local secondary school, and enjoys being an active member of Weybridge Rowing Club, cycling and singing in a local choir. He loves living in Weybridge and will work to make his town centre a healthier and safer place by reducing air pollution whilst making improvements for cyclists and pedestrians, seeking to re-establish lost NHS services, developing the library and community centre facilities and retaining the children’s centre, refusing planning permission for out-of-proportion and out-of-character development and protecting the town centre’s green spaces.

Our kind of Elmbridge

Is a place where our towns and villages are thriving communities with flourishing local businesses and services centrally located.

Is a place where all our open spaces are valued and protected.  A place where the Green Belt is not built on.

Is a place where the local council is fully accountable to local people, where there is full transparency of council spending at borough and county level. A place where the planning process is fully accountable to local people. A place where local people can have their voices heard.

Is a place where young people are safe and valued, where there are leisure, sport and social facilities for young people in all our communities, where cycling and walking is safe. A place where young people have a future.

Is a place where families thrive. A place where families can live in well designed, well placed affordable housing.

Is a place where green transport is a reality, a place where car charging points are built into the infrastructure and all new developments. A place where car clubs and car sharing is encouraged. A place where public transport meets the needs of the people.

If this is your kind of Elmbridge, then vote for your Liberal Democrat candidate.

Why aren’t we getting there? By train!

Monica Harding, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in Esher & Walton writes:  

South Western Railway has become a joke in our constituency. Failings in our transport network mean we can’t get to work on time, our children can’t get to school, and yet fares have increased again by 3.2% in the New Year. We’re being asked to pay more for less.

It is not good enough. It is unacceptable that we are not able to get to London on time – the world capital of finance in one of the largest economies in the world. This is having a negative impact on earnings which are lost, enforced time off work, childcare extras, appointments missed and so on.

While the national government fails to get a grip on poor performance, Liberal Democrat MPs are stepping up and holding the rail companies to account. They believe that passengers must come first, not the investors in South Western Railway. They are speaking up for their constituents and offering solutions and they are pressing the government to take action.

Our neighbouring Lib Dem MP, Vince Cable (Twickenham) brought an emergency debate to parliament in December on the subject of South Western Railway and Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group to hold the train companies to account. In December Ed published a report ‘ Passengers Must Come First’ which spells out what needs to happen.

LibDem MPs have a reputation as good constituency MPs, working hard for their constituents and standing up for their interests. As the Liberal Democrat PPC in Esher and Walton I will work with Ed and Vince in pushing the solutions for trains in our constituency.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  • The national government must either remove SWR’s franchise or impose a new performance related contract, without negotiation.
  • SWR must not be rewarded for its manifest failure. A new contract or operator must be incentivized to put the passenger first, before shareholders. Profits should only be made once stretching performance targets are met.
  • Performance targets on SWR must include the existing Public Performance Measures improving to at least 90% on all routes by the end of 2018/20.
  • SWR and Network Rail must urgently develop new capability and capacity to manage disruptions better.
  • The Government must support immediate additional funding for essential investment.
  • Network Rail must reform its structure and culture so that managers are held accountable for performance.
  • Network Rail must be given more time to access safely the infrastructure to allow for basic maintenance and repairs.
  • The Department for Transport’s role in holding the rail companies to account should be independently assessed.

Want to know more? Follow me on twitter @monicabeharding, Facebook or at monicaharding.org and get updates as we demand better for Esher and Walton.

Guess what – Surrey admits Brexit is bad for us

Brexit is bad for us says Surrey County Council’s impact assessment – now that it has finally been revealed.

Thanks to Monica Harding working with other local Lib Dem members and our campaign with the Surrey Advertiser, the Information Commissioner’s Office have ordered Surrey County Council to release their Brexit Impact assessments.

And guess what, brexit is really bad.
‘No deal’ means that the UK would be treated by the EU as a 3rd country and would be subject to full 3rd country controls, including completing customs declarations and being subject to a variety of border checks.

Brexit is not included as a risk within the National Risk Assessment 2016. Although the risks associated with BREXIT can be drawn from this document

On the Surrey Community Risk Register in a no deal brexit scenario the following risks are identified:
H14 – Food Supply contamination
H60 – High consequence dangerous goods / transport accident
H24 – Emerging Infectious Diseases
H25 – Major outbreak of exotic notifiable disease in animals (including birds)
H37 – Influx of British Nationals

The following risks have also been identified in the SCC report:

  • Loss of cover due to industrial action by workers providing a service critical to the preservation of life (such as emergency service workers)
  • Local accident on motorways and major trunk roads
  • Public Disorder
  • Notifiable plant disease / Notifiable exotic invertebrate species

Within SLRF partners own risk management processes there is the risk to the supply chain where goods and products are imported from the European mainland

And the kicker – as of 20 July 2018, HMG has suggested that partners should have plans in face for a four week period of disruption (that is increased controls by EU states at ports, including Eurotunnel) plus a two week period to allow the impact to return to relatively normal levels of service.

Key consequences:

  • Surrey expect long delays in accessing Dover ports and Eurotunnel in Kent.
  • Temporary closure or permanent changes to all or part of the M20 and M26 to support Operation Stack and other mitigations for port delays.
  • Significant reduction in the capacity of the Surrey Highway Network, with consequential increase in local and pan Surrey road journey times, impacting on local residents and businesses.
  • Significant long term detrimental impact on county’s economic competitiveness, attractiveness
  • Significant disruption to health and social care delivery within the community; for patients travelling to hospitals for treatment and for critical staff in getting to work

Significant disruption to the food supply chain with delays in the exportation of food from Britain, and importation of food from the rest of Europe and non EU countries.
Significant disruption to the distribution of medication around the county along with supply chain of medication from outside of Britain.

Significant economic and environmental impacts for Surrey or in other words – total chaos to our supply chains. That’s food and medicine supplies to the shops. We learn of nearly half million homeless in Britain, and one in five children living with severe food insecurity, and then Brexit contingency plans say supplies will be disrupted. Welcome to the land of hunger.

When was the government last right on a timescale? The Prime Minister couldn’t even get the date of the meaningful vote delivered, a simple vote in parliament. What hope ferries delivering vital food and medicine to Britain? How long will four weeks stretch on for with failing Chris Grayling, four months? four years?

Surrey hid it from us, even though it all its contents were already in the public domain. Why?

Surrey County Council has only included in its impact assessment existing published information. Why did they try to hide it from residents? Were they ashamed of their own lack of activity, or following the minority conservative governments orders against the interests of the residents of Surrey?

Surrey County Council obviously feared the residents of Surrey would be unhappy to learn of their plans, and so decide to keep them hidden. They found the only legal argument they could to try and hide behind. To refuse to provide local residents with information about Brexit preparations, to deny FOI requests, and to keep secrets from residents. They relied upon an exception intended for cases of national emergency and public order. They relied upon the section 36(2)(c) exemption – the catch all exception – using “safe space arguments” to delay the publication of supposedly important contingency plans.

And they have been found to have done so improperly, with the ICO ordering the information be released.

A victory for Surrey residents against a secretive county council seeking to keep the residents of Surrey in the dark.

Yet the plans are half baked, barely worth the effort of reading. What a farce of a county council.

Surrey residents left in the dark again.

Opinion and Analysis – Time to turn to the pro-EU party

By Sam Vete

Braab braab black (belt) sheep, have you any wool? 
                         No Sir, no Sir none at all!
Said there would be plenty, but the bags are empty – it is plain!
     Nothing for the businessmen
, working hard down the lane!

Walton and Esher Tory voters, you have been warned! Dump Dominic, the monomaniac ideologue who puts his personal fantasy before the interests of his voters. He displays laughable ignorance of ‘realpolitik’; the significance of the Dover/Calais trade route and the difficulties of a small island (not an empire) in the maelstrom of global trade.

Braab, poster-boy of the referendum campaign, becomes the emasculated bell-wether black sheep, entering the pen along with retrogressive 17th century throwbacks; the ERG and Parliamentary hard-core brexiters. He rejects the directions of ‘one dame and her dogs’ (May and the whips) and has chosen his own selfish dogma. He even puts the UK at risk of a ‘no deal’, acknowledged to be far worse than any other deal.

Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of May’s BINO (brexit in name only) deal, like it or not, it would be better to stay in the EU. Braab has shown himself to be out-of-step with the electorate, locally and nationally. It is time to rid politics of such extremists. He should either be deselected (q.v. Kate Hoey) or voted out.

Don’t imagine for a minute that Labour will be galloping to the rescue. That way lies shepherd Corbyn’s brexit crook and a return to 20th century socialism.

Now is the time to turn to the pro-EU party, the LibDems. Our agenda deals with real issues:
Schooling and education
Affordable housing
Protection of the green belt
Realistic funding options for the NHS
… And, of course, an ‘exit from brexit’!

Brexitometer highlights anti-Brexit sentiment in Elmbridge

Monica Harding, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Esher & Walton, together with her campaign team are hitting the streets of Elmbridge and asking residents about their Brexit concerns – using Brexitometer. In it locals are invited to give their view on five Brexit-related questions, by placing star stickers in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ boxes. So far this street action has taken place in Walton and Claygate. Esher, Cobham, Molesey, Thames Ditton and Long Ditton are next in line.
There is no doubt about how Elmbridge residents are responding to Brexit – it is not going well, it is bad for our future, it will hurt NHS and economy. Mr Raab also gets a thumbs down when it comes to his role in the process. So no wonder a large majority of residents demand a People’s Vote.

If you’d like to hear more about Brexitometer or talk with Monica about your concerns, get in touch by emailing her – monica_harding@hotmail.com – or call her on 07799 704816.

 

Liberal Democrats’ Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Monica Harding invites you to support her campaign

Dominic Raab’s resignation as Brexit Secretary has made it clear that our local MP wants the very hardest of Brexits and is willing to push our country to a no-deal.  There is no moderation in his idea of leaving the EU.  This is at odds with the wishes of his constituency who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

As Brexit Secretary he was responsible for negotiating the deal which he now says he can’t support. Two years of negotiation and two Brexit secretaries have been unable to produce a deal which would lead us to the sunlit uplands promised by the Leave campaign.

It is clear it can’t be done.

We are left with a bad deal which the Prime Minister is trying to railroad us into accepting, because everyone knows a no deal outcome would be catastrophic.

The Prime Minister asked MPs to make a choice of her deal, no deal or no Brexit. She asked them to choose based on what their constituents want. We know what the constituents of Esher and Walton want based on their vote in the referendum. But I’m not sure our MP is listening or wants to listen. He certainly looks hell bent on his own idea of a hard Brexit.

If our MP can’t represent us then let’s fight for a people’s vote where we can express the final choice ourselves. Let’s take back control.

If you believe that your MP no longer represents you, then please join my campaign. My team are fighting hard for a people’s vote because we believe the people of Esher and Walton deserve better and for their voices to be heard.

Our country stands on the brink – the decisions taken over the next few months will determine our futures and Britain’s place in the world for decades to come. If you want your voice heard then join me. Please email me – monica_harding@hotmail.com – and we’ll work together.

Monica Harding
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
for Liberal Democrats in Esher & Walton

Email monica_harding@hotmail.com

Liberal Democrats select Monica Harding in Esher & Walton to fight the next general election

As the party prepares for a possible early general election, the local Liberal Democrats have selected Monica Harding as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Esher and Walton.

Monica is challenging the incumbent Conservative MP Dominic Raab on an anti-Brexit platform and the Conservatives’ chaotic management of and continuing underinvestment in public services.
Monica said: “60% of Elmbridge voted to stay in the EU and our MP continues to ignore us. Raab’s hard Brexit views do not represent us as a community – that’s why I’m running.”
“I will campaign for a People’s Vote to end a Brexit that serves Dominic Raab rather than his constituents’ best interests. The time for putting self-interest and party politics first needs to end. I will fight for local residents’ interests and represent the views of our community honestly.”
Monica has lived in Thames Ditton for over a decade and is married to
Jon, with four children at local schools in the borough. She is Vice Chair of Governors at a state primary school in Thames Ditton and has held positions on the boards of several charities.
“I demand better for our children – and a different kind of future than the Tories offer. I will fight school cuts, underinvestment in the NHS, the black hole in social care spending, cuts in policing and the justice service, climate change, and the continuing chaos on South Western Railway which lets down our residents on a daily basis.”

Monica has held high profile positions in the public, private and third sector in the UK and internationally. Her CV includes: Associate
Consultant at PA Consultancy, CEO of the Industry and Parliament Trust, CEO at Refugees International Japan and Director of Communications for the British Council – working in Japan, China, France and the UK.
In these roles, she has honed her skills in communications, campaigning and advocacy, strategic direction and driving organisational efficiency.
As a Liberal Democrat Monica will stand up for liberal values and progressive policies and is committed to bringing transparency and integrity to politics.

For more information, please contact:
Monica Harding, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in the Esher & Walton constituency
Email – monica_harding@hotmail.com Mobile 07799 704816

Opinion & Analysis – Raab’s Cake is Dog’s Brexit

By ‘Sam Vete’ – 1st November  2018
From an InFacts article: “Raab’s proposals mean that amendments to the motion approving May’s agreement with the EU would not be voted on until after Parliament has decided whether or not to accept the deal … The culture of the Brexiters is that … any action that [brings about] Brexit is justified, no matter the price in terms of law, decency or democratic principles.” ( https://infacts.org/brexiter-chicanery-shows-they-arent-winning-argument/ )

Raaab’s version of Johnson’s cuisine is: “Once we’ve eaten the cake, then you can have it – soaked in bile that is evidence of the chaos of hard-line brexiter regurgitation”. As Justice Minister, this would have been equivalent to executing the suspect before trying the case; as Housing Minister, equivalent to building on green belt before the planning meeting. In these roles, Mr. Raaab’s feet scarcely touched the ground. His meteoric rise to BrexSec left him little time other than the opportunity to practice the kind of ambiguous empty rhetoric which is a prerequisite for a key role in the monomaniac brexiter government that May has cultured.

Since his appointment (which saw the emasculation of his political negotiating powers by May a few days after his elevation!), his behaviour has been reminiscent of a puppet automaton, contributing only the repetition of the dogma: “This Government is committed to leaving the EU”.

Clearly, Mr. Raaaaab is sitting on the pot but has produced only hot air – and, to anyone committed to remaining in the EU, an obnoxious effluvium. It is time for the worthy Tory voters of Walton and Esher to prise the sycophantic Mr. Raaaaaab’s sweaty glutaeal muscles from his safe seat.

For our constituency, the LibDems offer the only centrist activity that can sweep aside the brexit travesty and get Britain back on track.